Teachers’ Stress Reduction through Mindfulness Improves Classroom
Teachers’ stress reduction makes the classroom better? Of course! An interesting new study published by the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education shows that teachers who incorporate mindfulness strategies into their lives for personal stress reduction feel better and teach better. The study was conducted on teachers in public schools in New York City who participated in the CARE program (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education). Here’s the link to the article from the University of Virgina website: Curry study: Reducing Teachers’ Stress Leads to Higher-Quality Classrooms.
What’s the reason that teachers are more stressed out these days than perhaps in the past? It is the sheer time required to both manage curriculum and handle the social/emotional needs of each individual in the classroom. Strategies teachers can use to reduce their stress include mindfulness of emotions, self-regulation of attention (eg, on one of the senses like breath), caring and listening exercises that nurture empathy and compassion.
“We know that when teachers are aware of their increased stress in a particular moment, that awareness allows them to intentionally respond to that stress by taking small measures to de-escalate it,” said Patricia Jennings, the research leader of the study and an associate professor at the school. “When teachers can reduce stress, they can choose how best to respond to their class or an individual student.”
The study found that teachers who practiced some kind of mindfulness for stress reduction experienced the following powerful benefits:
- reduction in their own personal distress,
- improved emotional regulation,
- greater sense of being present in the moment,
- greater ability to recognize where their own biases and emotions might impact their reaction to a student, and
- increased compassion and empathy toward their students’ perspectives.
- reduction in cumulative stress that results in burnout
- better scores using the CLASS tool (Classroom Assessment Scoring System), an observational tool for assessing classroom quality. CARE teachers were found to be more emotionally supportive and sensitive to the needs of their students.
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